This week Jonathan got his report card. His report card is quite different from that of other children in Grade 5: most of theirs don't include items like learning to distinguish left from right; stating what weekday is today, tomorrow, and yesterday; or writing the first three letters of his name. (Note to self: next time you have a son, name him something short like Ed!)
As a special needs student, Jonathan has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that sets goals designed specifically for him, and he has an Educational Assistant, Mr. O'Connor (a.k.a. "Mr. O"), to help him achieve these goals at his own pace. Jonathan's school day includes a wide variety of interesting activities that cover the social, language, self-help, and gross/fine motor domains, including the following:
- He goes around the school to visit different people like the secretary and caretakers so he can practice sentences like "Hi, how are you?" wait for the person's reply, and then say, "See you soon, take care!"
- He asks his classmates what they had for supper the night before and tells them what he had.
- He logs onto his computer and, with the help of a program with picture symbols, creates his daily journal: in it he records the day, date, and year; the weather for the day (apparently he has trouble figuring out "wind" -- don't we all?); his previous night's supper and Mr. O's; and the activities for that particular day such as music or gym.
- He participates with his class in "Roots of Empathy," in which Baby Kate is brought into the class by her mom so the students can observe, talk about, and play with her.
- He works on identifying and counting coins and then, on Fridays, goes with Mr. O to the corner store to buy a treat with his money -- practicing safe sidewalk skills as he goes.
- He works diligently, and sometimes frustratedly, on zipping his coat zipper and pulling his snow-pants right side out.
- He works on large-motor physio activities like wall pushups, stepping on/off and in/out of wooden boxes, and basketball dribbling; as well as fine-motor skills like squeezing a ball, fastening and loosening nuts and bolts, and removing lids.
- He practices his letter sounds, states a word that begins with every letter, and reads simple books.
It's been said that for our lives to be meaningful we need three things: someone to love, something to look forward to, and something to do. Jonathan has all those things in his life. He loves his family and everyone he meets, and school is really his second home. He wakes in the morning cheerfully anticipating his breakfast, his school day, his supper, his DVD's -- even his bedtime! He has supportive people and resources to guide him in doing meaningful activities that fit his abilities and gently push him to new ones. His report card is just one piece of evidence that his life has meaning, purpose, and joy.
************p.s. March 5/13: You may also be interested in reading Kristina Robb-Dover's post about her own daughter which I recently read on the blog "Thin Places" by Amy Julia Becker. I could identify with a lot of what the writer said there so I thought I'd include this link.